Congress is racing to complete as much appropriations work as possible prior to the August recess, but despite good progress being made, they are unlikely to avoid the need for a continuing resolution.
The budget and appropriations process began in February with the release of the President's FY 2019 budget proposal — a devastating document that eliminated many programs critical to planning. Fortunately, Congress so far has again rejected most of the proposals put forward by the administration.
Congress is technically supposed to approve a concurrent budget resolution by April 15. However, the budget deal reached earlier this year set spending levels for both the current fiscal year and the upcoming FY 2019, so the deal is being considered a budget resolution for the year. Appropriators have been approving spending bills at the budget deal level.
Springtime is typically a busy season for appropriators, and though this is a midterm election year, the process for FY 2019 is on track.
The House and Senate both began considering bills last month. Prior to the Memorial Day recess, the House approved seven bills through committee and is preparing to bring a three-bill omnibus to the House floor, including the Energy and Water spending bill. The House is likely to continue to move similar spending packages on the floor throughout June and July.
The plan in the Senate is less clear, as nominations are likely to take priority for floor time this summer.
Though the appropriations process is on track now, it is unlikely that Congress will complete all of its work prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.
When legislators return from the August recess in September, they will likely need to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open in the new fiscal year. Presumably, the CR will last until after the mid-term election in early November, potentially setting up the lame duck Congress to make spending decisions when it returns to Washington after the election.
Top image: U.S. Capitol in June. Photo by Flickr user Architect of the Capitol (U.S. Government Works).
About the Author
Tess Tembree is policy manager at Advocacy Associates.